Council finally repeals rental ordinance
After a year's worth of hearings, the creation of an ordinance, the passing of legislation and the subsequent petition to bring it to a referendum, the Marco Island City Council on Monday repealed Ordinance 15-01, which would have required the registration of rental properties.
This comes on the heels of the city of Fort Lauderdale, Flagler County, and a number of other communities voting to require similar types of control of troublesome rentals. Collier County Code Enforcement is moving to enforce a more stringent ordinance that outlaws short-term rentals in unincorporated areas of Collier County.
Both council members Bob Brown and Ken Honecker supported the repeal due to the negative atmosphere that had been created over debate on the ordinance, which was opposed by the local real estate community and Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce members.
Councilmen Victor Rios and Larry Honig both opposed the repeal of the ordinance and instead favored moving forward on the referendum.
"We owe it to the people to let their voices be heard," said Rios, who had stood in opposition to the ordinance since its inception.
Council members Ken Honecker, Bob Brown, Larry Sacher and Amadeo Petricca voted in favor and Rios, Honig and Joe Batte opposed.
The ordinance is now officially repealed.
The Planning Advisory Board took more than two hours to hear from an army of architects, planners and attorneys as they discussed the owner's vision for what he would like as part of a $2.5 million renovation of the plaza at the corner of Bald Eagle Drive and Collier Boulevard.
That project will hinge upon whether or not a PUD (Planned Unit Development) would be created in collaboration with the properties at 740 and 720 Bald Eagle. Those properties are a combination of the Progressive Auto Storage facility, which abuts the Island Plaza Property and the Progressive Auto Service and Quick Stop facility, which is adjacent to their sister facility.
When David Luebke, vice president of Hendricks Commercial Properties, of Beloit, Wis., who owns the Island Plaza addressed the board. He made it clear that major investment in the plaza could not be done without the creation of the PUD that would encompass a larger vision for the improvements of what some say will be a gateway to a revitalized town center area.
"We are here to do what is right," said Luebke.
One of the keys to making the project work would be an indoor auto shopping center for islanders at the Progressive Auto Storage facility. This would allow auto shoppers to view several different makes of vehicles inside the air-conditioned storage facilities.
The combination of the 6.2-acre combined parcels could allow retail, commercial and possibly some residential applications, although that use was not clear in the presentation.
Enhancements to drainage, landscaping, curb appeal, pedestrian and traffic control are all part of the overall plan.
On Friday, the Hendricks' team received a "conceptual approval" prior to moving forward.
"It doesn't make any sense to invest the monies for final design and layout if you're not onboard with the concept of the plan," said Bob Mulhere, chief planner for the project.
In the end, the board gave a 5-2 approval for the "conceptual nature" of the plan with board members Dick Adams and Bill Trotter voting no. Both the Hendricks Group and the Progressive Auto team would now work toward a more refined look at how to accomplish their goals.
City OKs new water rates
Monday evening saw the city council take testimony on a new rate schedule for the water and wastewater utility. The new schedule will find large water users paying a higher share of the cost for the utility, while smaller users will pay less.
Council voted 5-2 to approve the new structure, with council members Larry Honig and Victor Rios objecting.
The second reading of the ordinance will be held on Oct. 19 in the city council chambers starting at 5:30 p.m
Rick Medwedeff, general manager of the Marco Island Marriott Beach and Golf Resort, asked for relief.
"This appears to be a 30-40 percent increase in our cost for those services," said Medwedeff. "Please go back to the consultant and relook at the schedule."
Craig Woodward, who owns North Marco Utilities, was concerned that he may be looking at a 52 percent increase.
"This represents a seismic shift in the cost of these services," said Woodward.
Council member Bob Brown said the new plan would simplify the process.
"This reduces 18 pages of how your bill is figured and reduces that to 3-4," said Brown.
Councilman Amadeo Petricca reviewed bills from single-family homeowners, commercial and condominiums and found that many will see reductions of 5-20 percent.
"I'm not saying large users are not going to see an increase, some will," said Petricca.
Resident Ed Walsh suggested the city look at waiving the permit fee for the installation of a "deduct meter" for irrigation. "This would really help with the cost," said Walsh.
City Manager Roger Hernstadt reported that the utility department has been reviewing a possible program for city staff install those meters and will hope to report back to council and show a substantial reduction of that cost.
Residents and businesses may calculate their new rates by visiting the city's website at cityofmarcoisland.com and utilize the rate calculator found on the site.